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Emergence and Narrative — Vervaeke, Vanderklay, Pageau

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Paul: All right here we go, welcome, I don’t know who greets who, hosts or anything. I had some thoughts so I’m gonna jump right in, I think in some ways this is a little bit of consolation for the fact that we can’t meet this September in Thunder Bay. My hats off to Urban Abbey and their desire to put this together, I really hope that next year we’ll have the ability to do this right. I hope that what we do today adds to the anticipation. Actually, in my experience with conversations the more we talk together the better our conversations will get because we know each other better.

John: Yeah, thank you for saying that Paul and thank you for welcoming us here. I hope I can get a copy of this file because I want to upload it on my channel as well.

Paul: I will send it out today right after we’re done.

John: Great and Jonathan as always, it’s great to see you as well. Paul, I hope that things have stabilized for you a bit, you’re in my thoughts as well.

Paul: Thank you, no it’s been—with Covid and that impact on the church… I’ve just been trying to launch some new initiatives—I have this day job which people often don’t recognize but it’s a real day job and so… when things get a little crazy things get a little crazy so YouTube comes second.

Jonathan: Oh, I haven’t been following the situation. Are you having some issues at the church with Covid craziness?

Paul: Yeah—I think a lot of it is—California is locked down who knows for how long and so I think some of the older members of the church who live at a distance especially widows I mean their children “Mom you shouldn’t drive that far to that church” and so what will emerge after Covid is difficult to know. I announced two new efforts which really aren’t any different from what I’ve been doing. One is to continue to help the church connect better online as church but then also more my YouTube channel which I call Estuary which is similar to the what we’ve been doing with our Jordan Peterson meetup. It’s just a place for outside the walls of the church. I use your icon of everything often Jonathan in this because it’s Estuary, sort of outside the wall. A church needs a place for its flow to go and so that’s what I’ve been doing. But it’s going fine and I’m doing well. It’s exciting but yeah, we’ll see what happens. I thought we might begin by… I’d like to hear from both of you, we’ve sort of been cast together, we’re a strange trio, and I’d like to hear from both of you where things are at with you and why this conversation now.

John: Well, I’ll go first. I really like what you sent in the email Paul, I thought that was excellent. I was proposing some general topics—I’m really interested in the emerging discussion about the relationship between symbolism and the cultivation of wisdom and that weaves through both of your work in pretty important ways but I don’t know if that’s ever been explicit a topic of discussion—but then you did something I thought was very good, Paul, you pointed out that there’s this emerging realisation which I completely agree with and I’m I think I’m exemplifying the thing you’re pointing to, that sense-making, meaning-making, wisdom-cultivation. It’s insufficient to just have a personal philosophy on individual practice. One needs community and ultimately that community needs culture and so I see you guys having traditions that are worthy of entering into dialogue with about that I’m engaged in that process right now and that was motivated by a criticism that Jonathan made that I took to heart. I love both of you guys and I care about what you have to say and I take it seriously and so Jonathan made the point about you know well John does all these sort of individual I think you called the “mystical practises” but there isn’t that and I’ve so I’ve launched this whole project of dialectic and dialogos and Paul you’re contributing to the to that anthology and then also building community doing that building the sangha the morning community around the meditation and contemplation now we’re going through the Western wisdom traditions Epicureanism Stoicism Neoplatonism and then the discord server and then meeting with like was at the moving movement summit and all these emerging communities of practises I mean it was just an impressive summit all these emerging communities and practises and—how they’re all responding to the meeting crisis and there’s this desire to network together and build a culture and I’ve sort of been building this sort of somewhat a little bit tongue—in—cheek but —this slogan Akira the Don did —steal the culture he did a meeting wave around it and that whole idea so I want to talk to you guys about that because I think well Jonathan made the criticism I respond to it and then Paul you’ve made also a criticism that I’ve taken to heart the scalability issue and then the issue about—that there’s value to and you use this term so it’s not pejorative the slowness of tradition that there’s a value to that and so I take that all of those points seriously and then like I said I think that is a meshed up with this ongoing discussion that’s emerging it’s actually a predict pretty significant discussion on my discord server community about Jonathan about the relationship of the symbolic way —the symbolic mode of cognition and is that a way of knowing is it is it more properly understood as something that affords understanding and wisdom so that’s also something that people are wanting to bring in discussion in connection with the project of community building and I take it that that’s not a coincidence. So that’s what I’m interested in and that’s what I would like to bring into discussion right now.

Jonathan: I think that the continuation of this moment in terms of recognizing the meaning crisis and the fact that it’s accelerating to a certain extent in terms of this year. If you would have asked me when I thought it would accelerate I would have known it was 2020 because I mentioned it before; just because of the election, because of what happened in 2016, similar things happen and that’s what launched this thing. That’s when Jordan appeared on the horizon and it was in relationship to what was going on these crazy protests were happening not as bad as now but it was similar in terms of a kind of accentuation of the meaning crisis. It’s not surprising that right now it’s ramping up again and it’s ramping up even more and the Covid has also added a whole layer which brings it into our body that we talked about John in our last discussion. I’ve had a lot of people really appreciate our last discussion by the way, a lot of people.

John: Yeah, I did too. Thank you for that, Jonathan.

Jonathan: I think that it really is a moment where we need to continue to examine what’s happening and try to propose the little solutions we can and propose ways of being that can avoid the polarisation that is kind of manifesting itself. In that sense that’s what I see as the continuation of this discussion. But also I think of course the whole idea to me the central question and the question I think which most interests me and mostly I think needs to be worked out and played out is the question of emergence the relationship between emergence or the relationship between the bottom up and the top down yeah in terms of understanding how reality works itself out that to me is the biggest question in always trying to to work through ways to talk about it to think about it more and to make it more to make it clearer and so that’s really what what fascinates me with this discussion and also the access that John you give us to Cog—Sci and to other elements which weren’t part of our like part of my vocabulary at least and weren’t part of my horizon and so it’s actually adding a lot of breath to let’s say breadth to the to my thinking and I find like I think I mentioned this every time I talk to you but I always find myself. I talk to this group of Jungian psychologists at Assisi Foundation, they invited me to do a conference and I found myself using your terms because in that context this is these are the right terms to use— if I use just Christian terms in that context some of them won’t even understand what I’m talking about but if I talk about combinatorial explosion then they kind of understand where I’m going in terms of the problem of emergence.

John: One of the great joys of my work has been exactly what you said that people are finding the conceptual vocabulary and the theoretical grammar affording to them. That brings me a lot of happiness, knowing that I’ve been able to help people that way, and I think it’s valuable that even if people disagree with me on some central points, and both of you do, in different ways you nevertheless can take my work up in a way that is affording of the good work that you guys are doing. So that pleases me quite deeply, so thank you for sharing that.

Jonathan: And Paul I was excited to see some crossover between our crews, like one of the people who’s really involved in the Symbolic World discussion hosted an event on your Discord server. I wasn’t massively able to attend but I was just happy to see that happening.

Paul: I think one of the things that all of our work—and I’m perhaps as the Protestant coming late to the party—is the recognition of the continued breakdown of the modern liberal consensus as the unifying sense making, something which had a particular take on science and how we talk about science in our culture and I see that as it’s been interesting because both of you have have shown me from different ways again I think Jonathan you’re right it’s kind of the emergence and the and the emanation have shown me from different ways how the sense making consensus is breaking down and of course as I think we saw in in the with the protestant reformation was a breakdown of an institutional authority and a sense—making consensus which led to the enlightenment and all of this this new paradigm now as I think we see the continued recession of the new paradigm which which is ironically also fueled by science because a lot of what I’ve learned from from from you John and from having watched Jordan Peterson kind of sparked it is that there are scientific reasons for the breakdown of the old paradigm and Jonathan pajot coming along and saying quite clearly I don’t think anyone would understand my channel if the recession hadn’t in a sense exposed so much beach and so now we’re beginning to see some very old things that were beneath the surface and so and that then brings us into the question because communities require and I’ve been listening to Stephen Smith who wrote a very interesting book Pagans and Christians in the City that look at basically the breakdown of the sense making of lake lay antiquity and the coming on of Christianity in that period and I think we’re we’re in again one of those moments but each each community that has stakes the breakdown of christendom the Christians of course resisted resisted resisted but while you’re resisting you’re also accommodating and that then leads to the next paradigm so it’s very interesting to watch both of you because in some ways you’re both seeing the breakdown and seeking new communities and a new consensus but Jonathan sort of from the ancient and John from the scientific modern it’s been fascinating to to have both watched both of you in this process

John: well I hope Jonathan feels that as a scientist I’m also deeply respectful and informed by the ancient I mean so the Neoplatonic and Socratic traditions as well as the Christian, Buddhist and Taoist traditions have have deep influence on me but I like the way you position things Paul I I think it’s a fair I think what’s interesting because I think this this might be one of those issues that is scalable in the way you’ve been talking about Paul because I see at the sort of the highest levels of both theology and metaphysics even within an academic arena I see people really wrestling with these issues now of emergence and emanation like at a high metaphysical level and you can even see it in the science the quantum theory is very much about how things emerge upward and then relativity theory is very much about how the cosmological emanates down and curves and shapes things so this this grammar of emergence and emanation is it’s pervasive in like a lot of the work that’s happening in even formal ontology in science but I think you’re right when you say because you wrote it in your email like one of the burning issues now is what’s the relationship between these emerging communities these emerging rituals these emerging psycho technologies too much is my term and the established traditions it’s interesting that Christianity now finds itself on the other side of that dynamic like so I I take the analogy to late antiquity to be a good one where Christianity is the new kid on the block and facing the at times trenchant conservatism of paganism and then the dialogue that went there and that but now Christianity is on the other side it seems to me at least historically and so I’m wondering like we’ve got to pay attention to that analogy but we’ve got to get the analogy the right way too and so it’s a tricky question to ask like and so I mean I’ve been trying to because of what you guys both said again I take what you say seriously — providing the grammar and the and the vocabulary is really important and empowering that’s why I’ve been doing a lot of work on this notion of the practice of dialectic right and how it engenders dialogos as a way of moving us out of oppositional into opponent processing discourse in which emergence is a sought—after feature of the dialogue, but also and—Jonathan I’ve been having discussions with JP Marceau can we situate that practice into a medic into a metaphysical dialectic and again I think there is precedent both within Neoplatonism the pagan tradition but also clearly Eriugena, Maximus within the Christian tradition at least the Eastern Orthodox Christian tradition for a dialectical metaphysics. Like I said it seems that I’m trying to find that as a potential place where practice and metaphysics can properly start to resonate with each other, that’s the project I’ve been engaging in to try and address this issue. How can we can get the emergence of the emanation I’m saying that the like the as you said Christianity is the tradition emanates it emanates the constraints of possibility the paradigm is emanated into the culture if you’ll allow me that and so that’s that’s what I’ve been trying to do to various degrees of failure and success about trying to recapture the ancient Socratic and Neoplatonic practises of dialectic and then put them into discourse with all these emerging discourse modalities. Now you guys both of you I think have met guy send stock like—the circling modalities and peter lindberg and the anti—debate modalities and the insight diet like the number of these even in the anthologies right the number of these things is growing and and I think there’s good reason for that I think there’s a deep emerging understanding that we need to commune and I use that word specifically we need to learn how to commune with each other together again in a powerful way if we’re going to get the kind of right relationship between emanation and emergence at least that’s what that’s that’s what I’m proposing I’m proposing to the two of you I want to hear what you think about that and how you want to respond to that

Jonathan: Well I mean I think that I feel like right now I feel like we’re just going to go over the same elements of our discussion that we always go over which is fine because we haven’t worked through them. The element which I find that will prevent this from completely consolidating is the lack of narrative and I know that you talk about a post-narrative possibility. The difficulty is that there is a narrative that we’re going through right now, right, all the protests in the US are a narrative that is where we’re burning in the narrative, it’s running through our society and there’s competing narratives and there’s a fight between the narrative. One of the reasons why there’s a fight is that the narrative has come down to the strictly political level of narrative. Let’s say what Christians had and what I think they still do have is they have an eschatological narrative. that is they have a narrative which is understood as this playing out of history at a grand grand scale or part of a story and of course the early Christians thought like it was imminent and the late Christians think that it’s imminent it’s also actually part of the narrative to think that it’s imminent because it ends up being a driving force towards behavior like a driving force towards the manner in which we engage with what’s here that it’s on the one hand pressing on the other hand temporary and we’re looking towards a let’s say a goal of manifesting that which is beyond history but we’re doing it within history and so there so I think that if we don’t recapture a narrative then we’re going to be a slave of narrative or we’re going to be we’re going to be eaten up by the narrative that brought about that brought about the world wars in 20th century and that are playing out in similar fashion today and that the narrative is, it’s exactly the problem that we’re talking about that is the two sides are a they’re the same sides they’re the same size as the question because there’s one side which is a bottom up side which looks in its diseased way it looks like communism looks like revolution looks like let’s say kind of equalizing of everything and then there’s another side which is a top—down version of the disease which is a clamp down enforced hierarchy enforced identity enforced structures enforced state mass state mass control all of the and so the two narratives are are an image of the very problem of the meaning crisis which is how to co how to join together the bottom up and the top down in a communal manner rather than a a battle between two sides of a story and so that’s why I think that I think that although I really appreciate the practices and I think that I’ll I think that the direction people are going and the questions they’re asking they’re all the right questions and they’re they’re the kind of people that I want to talk to let’s say it that way because I feel like they’re in the right mindset in everything but we also can’t ignore that the world is on a collision course again and that it’s very difficult to we can’t just… I’m not even a very political person I’m not involved politically but I also realize that it’s a narrative fight that we’re seeing

Paul: I wonder if for the sake of our listeners because I remember the talk you two had before last we can get pretty esoteric here I wonder if you might flesh out a little bit what you mean by eminence what you mean by emergence because you’re right Jonathan and as watching both of your materials —and thinking about this it’s in some ways the the structure of our conversation has developed and so on my last video I strawn has strawn is is kind of my always watching John and always sending me clips did you get did you see this one did you see this one so I wonder if for the sake of our audience you could sketch out a little bit what you mean by emergence what we mean by eminence and then where is where is the where is the conflict or at least not the conflict but where where is the where where is the fold in this conversation with respect to narrative because I think with with the non—theism and theism with the non— a system which is not necessarily bound to tell us versus narrative which is energized by telos yeah I wonder if you guys could —flesh that out a little bit for the audience lest we lose them right away

John: thank you Paul let’s yeah let’s do that let’s keep our audience with us because we we want as many companions on the way as possible I won’t claim to be exhausted because Jonathan will have a take on this I’ll speak from sort of a cog size scientific perspective about how these terms are being used and then my particular take on them and then I’ll say something about narrative that maybe will be a bit of moving towards closing the gap between us in this a bit but because of a discussion with strong actually so on the discord server you might be alluding to that so so emergence is—an issue in Cog ScIt’s one of the ways in which it where it came to the fore initially and Jonathan will be and Paul you’re probably the interest in this too is around of course the discussion of consciousness I don’t want to get into a debate about consciousness here I’m just using this this is a historical point I’m making I’m not making a substantial point right now I’m doing that elsewhere – but here for us and the idea was well because many people have rejected dualism the sort of cartesian position of mind and many people had come to reject a reductive physicalism that it’s sort of just the sort of the the properties of matter as given by physics that you could reduce consciousness to that many people started talking about the fact first that there’s emergence the idea and the standard analogy and it’s strong as an analogy but also very weak as an analogy is I have hydrogen it’s a gas I have oxygen it’s a gas right but when they interact together you get water and water has emerging has emergent properties it has properties that neither hydrogen nor oxygen has it’s wet it’s a liquid it’s consumable it’s nutritious to us in a way that you know oxygen but hydrogen isn’t etc etc or the way sodium and chloride are both poisons but when you put them together you get salt which is a nutritious right so you get the idea of from from the parts you get a hole of some kind that has new properties new ways of interacting with the world that are not found in the parts that’s emergence and then people started to realize that that’s not just a case about consciousness it’s a case about life it’s also a case about knowledge this is an argument that I make that—it can’t all be the only we can’t say that the only thing that’s real is the bottom level because if that’s if that’s the only thing that’s real then the dial that I’m using to read my equipment to tell me about the quantum particles isn’t real and that means the knowledge isn’t real and I take it as this that if if if I’m claiming x is real then I’m required to complain that my knowledge of x is real and therefore the gauge is real and the information is real so I’ve been arguing that emergence is a much more comprehensive that’s why I keep saying I’m not a reductive physicalist right I’m not a reductive physical so emergence is this but as that’s been happening people have been noticing yes but we have to talk this emergence isn’t this word gets used periodically isn’t willy—nilly it doesn’t just—it there are constraints on it so while there are while there are enabling constraints like hydrogen and oxygen coming together to make water there’s also the idea but there must be there must be principles that constrain the patterns of emergence that we reliably see because this emergence continues to be intelligibly like it it continues to produce intelligible patterns for us and so more and more people talk about well there must be sets of what are called selective constraints that are sort of really existing and I notice I’ve also argued we have to change the meaning of possibility real possibilities real constraints on that shape what’s probable for us so that of all of the ways things could emerge this kind of water emerges out of hydrogen and oxygen etc right and so and like I said you can see this riven through the metaphysics of physics the project of trying to get quantum which is about bottom—up emergence and relativity which is about top—down emanation because what is relativity it’s not an event right relativity isn’t an event it’s a consent it’s a set of constraints on what is possible in the universe right so even science is therefore caught in having to acknowledge both emergence and emanation and facing tremendous conceptual difficulty right physics has been this gets me into trouble every time I say this physics has been sort of more abundant theoretically for a long time if you want a place where theory is really caught in science go to biology physics well they keep generating theories yeah they keep generating theories that fall apart to try and bring these two together now not everybody will come to what I’m going to say but I’m not alone in saying that— I suspect there’s some deep conceptual difficulty that is preventing the reconciliation of those two and I think something more in a union sense something more of a paradigmatic shift has to be brought in to resolve that in physics and then I think that has to be consistent and coherent with all these other places where the where the emergence and the emanation in biology in cognitive science about consciousness it there’s a grand multi—nested reconciliation between emergence and emanation that is needed now I take Jonathan’s point because I always take your point seriously about narrative and strawn proposed to me that the practices of dialectic are a new con are narrative but in a new kind and here’s and I had a really interesting discussion with James carse the guy who wrote the religious case against belief on the stoa because he wrote the book finite and infinite games and he distinguishes between a finite game that has played to completion and an infinite game that is played for continuance and he said that we have to and what trump proposed to me said is that there is a kind of narrative that’s in conversation but it’s not the narrative of a finite game and then I took this up with James it’s the narrative of the infinite game it’s where the point of the narrative is constantly to try and change the rules by which you’re playing out the narrative so the conversation right is supposed to be open—ended in an important fashion and so … I take very seriously the post—modern critique of there’s no meta—narrative but I am coming to think that there is something at least like narrative or trans narrative in a dialectic practice especially if it can fit into a worldview that reconciles in that nested way emergence and emanation together so we don’t just talk about it we can actually if you and I Paul could enact the coming together of emergence and emanation within an open—ended dialectic and then that is an enacted symbol of the way the logos of the universe unfolds is that narrative I don’t know but it feels very symbolic and it feels like it’s got a progression to it that you guys seem to want in narrative but it’s not a typical narrative so that’s that’s what I have to say about that one more point on this the bottom up in the top down that’s for me relevance realization the bottom up is the generation of variation the enabling constraints the top down is the selection etc and that’s how you get the ongoing evolution of relevance realization so I think the machinery of relevance realisation and the machinery of of the intelligibility of things that’s found in the reconciliation of emergence and emanation I think they are deeply at one with each other and that goes again to something I got from Jonathan the idea that I’ve started to see in both in some of the great poets and in some of the Neoplatonic literature that there is a deep analogy between how my my cognition is doing relevance realisation and taking the combinatorial explosion of indeterminacy and bringing it into selected determination and the way the universe as a whole has got some principle that is moving between indeterminacy and determination again I listen to Jonathan and so I think enacting that is that a narrative I don’t know but it’s something at least symbolic and conversational and perhaps that’s moving a little bit towards your guy’s position so that’s where things are at for me right now I don’t know if that’s helpful or if it’s disruptive but that’s my take on what you asked for Paul

Paul: That was helpful.

Jonathan:Yeah, I think with the one of the great things about talking with John is to what extent I feel like he really does see the things that I’m trying to talk about and he has good words for them.—my of course I come from it in turn less in terms of the scientific sense. I see it more within the human horizon, let’s say, and so my analogies tend to be more related to notions of emergence in terms of the person and how we are constituted of many parts and the manner in which the unity of our being and the multiplicity of our being are joined together. And I tend to see that scale up from the parts of a person into a community into larger communities. Ultimately I see that there is a connection between the Cog Sci version, the relevance realisation, and the, let’s say, communal version. They to me are completely linked together because we don’t have —this is something I say all the time— there is no other perspective. We don’t have another perspective besides the perspective of the first person within consciousness perspective. So science ends up fitting let’s say fitting into the bigger the bigger pattern for me is not the scientific pattern the bigger pattern is the pattern of what you would call the pattern of consciousness or the pattern of meaning the manner in which meaning manifests as these two sides and then science are just a bunch of examples of how that about that happen and so I maybe I I’m kind of like a reverse from science I have a lot of appreciation for science because it gives good examples of places where this is so I really am more of a neopl Platonius in like a very strict sense but one of the things that is amazing is how what’s happening in the sciences and exactly what you talked about about this problem of the emerging qualities and of the patterns of noticing that there are patterns to this emergence it’s not just anything goes there are patterns and patterns which also manifest themselves across different emergent phenomena so you have emergent phenomenas and then you notice that there are there’s a pattern of emergence which which is across the different phenomena I think that it’s a key for modern people to go back into the Platonic tradition we’ll go back into aristotle and understand what he was talking about this is what he was talking about he was talking about body potential—and essences or these and how and the solution to me is an incarnational principle is that you can’t actually ultimately separate them that they are they are meant to only be embodied and it’s in only in the embodiment that you encounter the pattern and so—that’s the idea of the resurrection in Christianity in the sense that although sadly many Christians many who are very close to me keep talking about going to heaven which is just not at all the real Christian understanding you Christians don’t go to heaven right Christians Christian there is we don’t we don’t see the disembodied person as a as the ultimate realization of what the universe is about—we see resurrection or a full manifestation of the totality of the possibilities of the body with joining together with a fullness of the essence of what that thing is that’s the resurrection but it’s an it’s also eschatological in the sense that it doesn’t happen in the story the story leads to it but it doesn’t happen in the story it happens after the story whatever that means I mean in the sense that it’s something that it’s like something that history is pointing to but that it’s also happens beyond the point where history stops and so it’s not in the story the story is pointing to it but it doesn’t happen in the story that I think is also an important aspect of the of the Christian story which that it it’s pointing towards things beyond itself which are real realer than real like they’re they’re not imaginary they’re not just phantasms but they’re they’re realer than real but they’re also not part of this world but they’re not they’re not going to happen in this world I don’t know if that makes sense in terms of understanding what the let’s say the solution to the problem of the solution to the problem of this thing is that it can I say this we haven’t we have a perception of its telos but its telos isn’t in the story right it actually it actually it kind of leads towards and then there’s this —it’s like a jump it’s the same jump as the emergent jump right you can understand it that way it’s like it’s a j imagine that there’s an emergence happening at every level of reality and there’s a naming or a patterning and that happens and then there’s everything and then there’s another jump and that jump is beyond it’s like it’s beyond everything it’s also it’s also the communion of everything so and it breaks apart a little bit of the simplistic let’s say eschatological vision that normal like I don’t want to I don’t I hate bashing kind of normal people like or just kind of the regular faith—going Christian but it offers a possibility for something which is more encompassing than just a kind of basic understanding that Jesus is coming back and —he’s going to judge the world and we’re all going to say which is which is a great formulation I I don’t want to I don’t like I said I don’t want to disparage it but it leaves it so even for the person who believes it in a in a kind of very basic way it’ll still motivate their world in the same way as someone who maybe has a higher understanding of that story and maybe that’s also one of the things that I think story does is that it it makes that possible makes it possible for everybody to participate and not just because one of the things that happens for example in even in the groups that we’re in and the discussions we’re in is we end up being an elite because not everybody has access to that like not everybody has access to guy saying stocks circling practices like my my my second cousin right doesn’t have access to that or my aunt or because they don’t they they’re they’re living at a different just level of reality and so I think that that’s also one of the things that’s helpful in terms of I feel like I’m rambling now but that narrative is able to connect all these levels because of its pattern because it speaks in a very very basic way and uses terms that everybody can relate to then it connects everybody together

Paul: I—I really connect with what both of you were saying and I think the the differentiation between the finite and the infinite games is important and I see how so as a pastor I live in a very especially since my YouTube career I live in a very scaled world I minister to people with mental impairments for whom —Jesus died for my sins is so that’s the ins that’s that’s the verbal narrative instantiation of the story and it it’s interesting to me how —this emergence and the emanation these these so map onto —the heaven and earth dichotomies and you see narratively how how these things sort of flesh themselves out one of one of the things I was thinking about John when I was listening to you because you didn’t mention it here here yet but lately—in our last conversation we talked about the suchness and the moreness yes yes and I think in some ways part of what part of what emanation I think and the constraints you talked about I’ll throw another word in there which is always difficult because we like dualities because they focus things for us but that but the foundness the foundness of the fact that things things wrote things as as Jonathan always says things lay themselves out in in patterns that not only we see repetition but we see correlation between the patterns and we see that narratively it we see that we see that working in narrative I think we also we also see that with these —because there’s all these weird things in Christianity that if you look at the basic narratives and you look at them a while and you look at let’s say the scriptures which is the guide especially in a protestant way for for the laying out of these things they come to these funny conclusions like when they ask Jesus—this guy who who who wound up married to seventh this woman who mound up married to seven brothers who’s he married to in the resurrection and —you get to some of these weird points where Jesus kind of says your your category no longer works you’ve come to the end of this particular narrative game yet an another piece from Jonathan that I picked up with one of his conversations was one of the real insights I got from Jordan Peterson when he was talking about the the reality of sacrifice in human dynamics was he noted that part of the difficulty we have from a modernist perspective is we imagine that we in my words we imagine this monarchical vision where there’s where there’s no where there’s no narrative there’s no culture there’s just there just is apart from us and Jonathan mentioned but we’re patterned seeing patterns so the fact is as you said John that physics seems to have have hit a as seems to us have hit a wall and there there there seems to be correlation between the wall that physics has hit and sort of I mean Thomas Nagel I think has brought some of this out that boy isn’t it interesting that’s that same wall that we hit with respect to all of the tricks we learned in modernity of of taking of attempting to take human patterns out of the conversation to see things as such to imagine we see things as such but wait a minute we’re we’re all human beings in these in these things and this as you’ve said many times before too John that this narrative way of thinking it is not necessarily our machine code is something we learn when we’re three or four it is simply so powerful so pervasive that at least conceptualising human beings getting beyond narrative itself… I simply doubt that any of us are capable of that conceptualization simply because it ruptures exactly the suchness of what we see as human beings to be

Jonathan: But also because there’s also the question of narrative in the sense that I think it’s also maybe my notion of narrative is that it’s also a fractal there’s a it has a fractal structure and it goes from just getting taking an apple and bringing it to your mouth and experiencing that satisfaction and then throwing the core away that’s a story that’s a story that’s a that’s the same story as many larger larger patterns that happen at a multi—person level and so to me that when I talk about narrative and our experience of the sense the meaning of a sequence of events it scales down very low in terms of micro narratives that we encounter in our life but those micro narratives then like branches of trees and and joining to a larger narrative end up being what create the higher narratives and higher higher and higher narratives and so that’s also one of the reasons why I feel like we just can’t like it’s impossible to to avoid it because I really do see it as I could even say as something which might be pushing it to a limit but I could say that breathing is a narrative breathing the inhaling and exhaling is the pattern of everything right, and I’m not the first person to say that obviously if you read Vedantic literature they actually talk about the entire reality all of reality as a breath of the—of of the Atma or the infinite as this kind of this bringing in a potential and then producing—this bringing in of breath and this ex expiration of breath it’s life and death it’s everything even in the pattern of the breath

John: – well you both have said as I expected some very good things about things and I’m glad that you think that I take I listen carefully because I do and so let me try a couple of responses maybe from bottom up and top down from bottom up— when you talk to people and I’ve got training in it who do work in therapy and—things like CBT it’s often what’s needed for people to heal is to realize that there isn’t a narrative there that there was no story for why the truck hit the woman that you love there’s no story there you’re trying to find the story you’re trying to come up with some narrative you’re trying to make the universe fit into a narrative framework and you’re not going to be able to do that and—and accepting that there are aspects of the universe that are beyond or outside the narrative framings of your life is often I’m not speaking facetiously this is often deeply therapeutically beneficial to people right——why did what why is he suffering there well and well—you’re trying to find a story you’re trying to find a purpose you’re trying to find a tea loss and that is really really suffering now I want to acknowledge and I’ve acknowledged it repeatedly with both you guys what I call the indispensability of narrative we can’t become temporarily extended selves without narrative I acknowledge all of that and so we can’t become moral agents because you need in order to be a moral agent you need to be a temporally extended self and it’s clear that we learn narrative to do that and I’m going to say although it’s not sufficient it’s certainly a necessary requirement for being a person that you’re a temporally extended moral agent so that argument is narrative is indispensable to being a person but aren’t there aspects of the of the universe like this is the therapeutic context that are properly thought of as being impersonal right and so in the sense that thinking that they operate according to the patterns and principles of personhood and personality those are not the same thing those are not the same thing but let’s group them together because narrative deals with personality and personhood right that’s what narrative is about to my mind so I I’ll maybe we can go back to the breathing thing in a bit Jonathan and so bottom up I think that—and you see this throughout stoicism is a big recognition that there is the logos right there is intelligibility but right the the that to expect that to operate according to the principles and what do I want to call the principles and patterns of personality and personhood is a mistake now remember I did acknowledge a deep analogy between relevance realization and what the manifestation of intelligibility we want to put it that way the metaphysics of intelligibility but it seems to me that there are many instances where right people find a special healing and then that gets taken up clearly within the mystical tradition where people clearly report states and I do experimental work on this that are not like non—personality or supra personal and supra narrative and I think you even see hints of this if you’ll allow me I always feel like I’m treading on around when I do this but I’m very influenced by theology of Sally McFag and the work she’s done on parables both within the Christian tradition and especially within the Sufi tradition and she points out the point of a parable is to sucker you in to a narrative framework that then undermines itself as a story like what’s the story of the prodigal son well I can tell you sort of this sequence of events but what’s the narrative there well good luck because it’s an infinite game right I can’t tell you what the story is and she says that’s the point because there is no final t loss no final reconciliation between justice and compassion etc and if we try to resolve that we present that’s precisely where we lose our humanity it’s only in preserving the tension in a non—narrative fashion that we preserve our humanity so I’m trying to show you sort of top down and bottom up there seems to be lots of instances where —, again acknowledging the indispensability of narrative to personhood, it’s both therapeutic and also transcendent to realize the non—narrative and to realize that I think it’s even impregnated in a lot of the parables and allegories it’s in the Plato’s Allegory of the Cave it sounds like a story but it’s not a story because when he sees the sun his you know his mind is blowing open and so I think…

Jonathan: I think that you’re right I think that you’re right what you’re saying is completely right on – but I think it’s right on I think that it’s maybe the reason why we’re finding some kind of clash or we’re not totally agreeing is that maybe it’s because I I haven’t mentioned or I haven’t clearly stated that this the narrative the story the only story let’s say is the story of the is the breakdown in meaning right that’s the story that’s the story I I’m sorry to say it’s like the story is always a breakdown in meaning that’s always what a story is a story is a breakdown in meaning and then a recapturing of meaning in a different manner that’s why I talk about breathing in and breathing out or or—it’s always a fall and a standing up it’s always going down into the belly of the whale and crying out and then coming back up right it’s always job who is suffering without reason and is calling out to to and sometimes he doesn’t even get a reason right and you see that in even the story of Christ who on the cross says why have you abandoned me – so to me that is the story and so I think a good way to understand it maybe to understand it in like a three—tiered structure you could say so you have you have beyond beyond meaning you have the absolute or you have the mystical ex direct vision which goes beyond narrative right which is above narrative and then you also have death chaos and death which is this breakdown in meaning in a negative sense where things are scattered and fractured and and they cause suffering – and so you have these two sides and then in the middle which is the actually most of the time the world we navigate in that’s where the story happens and the story ends up being a negotiation between these two parts these two aspects that which transcends meaning and that the meaning and that which is below and is a breakdown of meaning right so you understand this the story as a pyramid as a as a mountain right I always talk about this this image of the mountain so you have which is above the light coming down and then you have the thorns and the ocean and the leviathan at the bottom of the of this of the mountain – and so and so there is of course like you said there is in for example in that person who has is hit by a bus that’s what they’ve they’ve just been tossed into the sea that’s exactly what’s happened to them they’ve been thrown to the to the shark they they’ve been eaten by a fish and now they’re going down into the into the water and they’re searching for meaning they’re looking around and they’re saying where is it where where is the meaning there’s no meaning this is painful this is suffering and then there is this reconciliation this this reconciliation which has to happen —and it can be a letting go of a desire for a false meaning it can be all kinds of possibilities of letting go of a false narrative but then they need to get back out of the water they’re gonna have to find another narrative right that person got hit by a bus and is in the hospital and it has broken legs and broken limbs and is searching for meaning to understand why it happened to them as they let go of that search for a kind of break a broken narrative if they’re going to get out of the hospital and start their life again they’re going to have to find a new story there’s going to have to a new story is gonna have to manifest itself and so to me that’s how I see the the narrative now the mystery and this is the biggest mystery of all and this is the biggest mystery of Christ is that what Christ is showing us is that ultimately and this is the very disturbing disturbing thing that I’m going to say but ultimately what’s up here and what’s down here they’re the same you you have to you can reach a point where the cross is at the top of the mountain which is like it blows your mind because it’s actually saying that the non—duality encompasses both the breakdown of meaning and the trans the transcendence of meaning yeah and it’s something that it’s hard it’s like I said it’s hard to deal because it just breaks everything in your mind but that’s to me that’s how I see the importance of narrative the man in which it’s transcended the manner in which it brings us into death and then ultimately how I think the story itself is transcended in a way that’s hard to fathom in the story of the crucifixion

John: I’ve confidence in the fact that it’s sort of your turn to speak Paul’s I’ll try to keep this brief so that I think that was really cool and I don’t mean that in a dismissive fashion I think I think that metaphor and symbol and narrative are all our continuum of things we do that we learn kids also have to learn metaphor they’re not naturally metaphorical they have to learn humor right they have to learn symbol and I mean I think that’s purely and so I think these this is the indispensable arena in which we train the non—logical identity that you talked about because the identity you talked about at the end they’re the same you’re clearly not making that a logical identity it’s translogical and I think narrative like the parables and you even said this like you they are an affordance but they’re a springboard to something beyond it because it sounds to me sorry I don’t want to impose it sounds to me like you’re saying the principle that makes whatever it is that’s making narrative is not itself narrative and what I’m wondering is if that’s sort of ultimately reconcilable with—a scientific world view that sees things in non—teleological terms that’s one part of what I want to say the other part is the which is a problem I keep coming back to which is the problem of pluralism I get I get the idea of encompassing narratives that reach from the depths of the emergence to the height of emanation and bind them together symbolon non—logical identity I get that I acknowledge it but what I see and this is the post—modern influence on me right I see multiple versions of these I mean you guys even have different versions of Christianity all right not and I’m not trying to be insulted right and different traditions and so while I acknowledge everything you say Jonathan and I think I’m acknowledging it quite sincerely and deeply the—the sort of the this this triangle of pluralism that we also have—we also have this scientific discourse that has made tremendous progress by going non—narrative and that’s pretty undeniable and then we have the other fact of the pluralism of these grand narratives as also an undeniable fact for people and so that’s why I and I hesitate to I to say there is the story that’s that’s that’s what’s problematic for me

Jonathan: yeah I understand I understand what you’re saying in terms of the story there’s only let’s say there’s only instantiations of the story too there there is the story all the the different instantiations of the story point to a story which is in a manner beyond the its manifestation the pattern of everything right so necessarily that’s also the one of the things that you get at the top of the mountain right so you get you so you have this side like in in segregate there’s a really wonderful way of explaining it which is that moses is on the mountain and he’s he’s he goes up the mountain and so in order to go up the mountain he does actually have to kind of strip away the outer layers of himself kind of strips away and strips away then when he gets into the highest point of the mountain God gives him the pattern of the tabernacle he gives them the pattern and but you understand that the only way that we can encounter the pattern of the tabernacle he says crazy things he says things like the pattern of the tabernacle which is Christ himself it’s like read the story it’s describing a building it’s not describing the anointed one it’s not describing the messiah but what he’s trying to show you is to say that he encountered the pattern he encountered the logos itself but when when it’s written in the text it’s it’s a building because they’re what else are you going to do it has to come down it has to come down the mountain he receives the law in a pure form he he sees the divine light but when he comes down he has to have tablets with things written on them and so he and those and those things are not I’m not and I want to disparage the law in the sense that it’s a that it’s that it’s just a form or it’s just a covering but it is a covering and but it’s a covering that manifests that which is beyond it so moses wears a veil on his face the veil that moses wears on his face is the law those two things are the same he’s coming down the mountain and he’s showing and so it’s like it’s funny because I hate to use it’s funny I’m going to use the I’m going to use a hindu text to talk about to talk about Christianity but that’s the to me that’s what happens in the Bhagavad Gītā yeah yes yes right so arjuna sees Krishna but he can’t it’s unbearable to see that it’s too much it’s overwhelming it’s an explosion of unity and multiplicity and it’s like he sees he sees divinity and it’s not and then he’s like but then what’s Krishna telling him to do he’s basically he’s saying like why would I fight like why would I fight because there’s this the same problem you’re saying there’s these multiple stories and there’s these different things and all these things so it’s like I’ve I’m brought into a kind of lethargy where I can’t act because there’s all these different these all these different paths and all these different roads that lead—up the mountain and Krishna is saying take your sword go fight you have to be on a you have to be on a path there’s no other way you have to be on the on an actual road that leads you up the mountain and that road is is as real as it’s going to get until you reach the divine vision and I can’t talk for what happens after that who can speak for what happens after that.

John: well I mean I like I mean I like that you brought in the Bhagavad Gītā and how— Krishna gloss grows through a pluralism now I’ve become deaf right and now I’m become this and now I’m from that and it’s the trajectory through all of the instantiations that that arjuna is supposed to pick up on and so I agree with that and the idea that sort of behind beyond but beneath the stories is the logos but what I what what I’m suggesting is maybe a better model for the logos than story is dialogos is what we’re doing now that this is and there’s a reason why it’s called the logos I think a better model for the logos is dialogos what’s happening here this unexpected unpredictable unfolding of relevance realization and meaning making and that’s a better and more right a better metaphor a better symbol for the logos than the telling of stories that’s to me better that’s what I’m proposing

Paul: it’s it’s interesting to me in conversations like this I often ask myself – where is the disagreement and what is the disagreement about in your because—I’ve got a lot of experience John in the illustration that you used of the woman who is hit by a is hit by a truck —and I I think Jonathan really nicely sort of laid out the meta story what exactly is a story and another way to frame it it’s interesting and NT Wrights in his magisterial work his first volume he goes first thing he one first thing he gets into in terms of his prologumen is what is a story and another conceptualization of it is you have shalom the breakdown of shalom and the recapture of shalom and this is a this is a and this is in many ways also gets that Jonathan framed it in terms of meaning you could frame it in terms of shalom but it’s this basic movement from—creation fall redemption and more of the—the classic statement of my own tradition it’s it always strikes me the what is what exactly is the consolation what exactly is the consolation of hearing that the the accident with the truck was was a product—there was there was no purpose behind it there was and to me this this is where we bump up into the where this conversation bumps up into consciousness and persons and I —I’ve been doing a ton of thinking about persons over the last two years in terms of what persons are because there is this there is this emergent quality to to personhood and the connection to our physiology and the our histories I mean all of this is evident and in personhood cognitive science psychology has has illuminated so many of those connections yet when it comes to the story of the truck accident so often what I see how it boils down in the lives of people is that father meant me no harm or there wasn’t a there wasn’t this this gets into this this archetypal thing that what crushes people often in Christianity especially in a very robust version of Christianity which is Calvinism which very much accentuates personhood through and through where—all of the evil that comes to me is brought to me by my father’s hand —this gets really weird in some Calvinist circles but therapeutically pastorally theologically you can see these moves and I think it’s interesting in Christianity in the in the Hebrew scriptures where among the background of a among the background of creation narratives which are simply replete with persons free agents as you will small g gods the son is a God the moon is a God the —every everything’s just replete with gods you get this story at the beginning of Genesis where there’s there’s one consciousness —and the sun is a functionary but you don’t pray to the sun and the moon is the moon governs by night but you don’t pray to the moon you know in the words of saint Francis it might be brother son sister moon but even that formulation relativizes my personhood with respect to the source personhood of which my personhood is butter reflection as even in a sense the sun and the moon are even though we don’t treat them as persons they are they are obedient functionaries but in a sense non—conscious so so in a funny way—so what I’m trying to do is to begin to get a sense of – so we’ve got someone advocating for the meta story and and I think Jonathan articulated so well and John you articulated well and I wonder – where’s where’s the disagreement here and and not in the spirit of saying— well let’s let’s paper over these disagreements so we can all hold hands and sing kumbaya but much more in the spirit of dialogues where we’re saying okay I understand Jonathan a little bit better and I understand John a little bit better and I might even see some mat some mutual mappings that I didn’t see before but I very much understand both of you where —all of the usual suspects that we’re dealing with now in terms of our meaning making are at play in this conversation between you two and the different traditions that they’re not simply the same thing as people like to sort of facility jump to oh they’re all talking about the same thing it’s all there’s no disagreement there none of us are doing that so it’s just interesting listening to you both and and looking at the mappings and saying very interesting put that on my tombstone my life it was very interesting I don’t know if that leads either of you to anywhere

Jonathan: I mean I can maybe steal man John’s position in the sense that I understand his his suspicion of let’s say story and or the united suspicion of inhabiting a story in the sense that leads to war it does it really does and it happens all through the all through human history where inhabiting identities and inhabiting stories will lead you into conflict with people who have other stories and the fact that John is mentioning that there are these other passages others religion there are different types of Christianity there are different— ways of of practicing religion that that shows this difficulty which is how if you inhabit a path if you if you take on this path as a story and you move you enter into a story then you’re going to find yourself in competition with other stories and the dangers that we fall back onto a kind of tribal kind of type of tribal warfare that has plagued human history so it do you think that I’m right in terms of understanding the re one of the reasons let’s say why you’re you want you’re careful with that idea

John: I think that’s fair and then I would add one element I think that’s implicit which is the idea that story comes to an end and that what I need to do therefore is end other stories so that the only ending is my story’s ending and I don’t think so I think there’s a deep connection between I see some of the things you’re saying is saying that there are narratives that are non—teleological I wanna I wanna leave that open I don’t wanna impose on you so right because I think breathing isn’t I don’t want breathing to end that would be a mistake right I don’t want to complete that process it’s not a finite game it’s an infinite game if I take the metaphor correctly but I think where that… for many standard interpretations of what narrative means is narrative is teleological and I find on one hand that problematic with respect to science I’ve already mentioned that but I also find it problematic because I think there is a deep connection between and this is what James cars argues between tediology finite game and yeah conflict warfare yes I think those are inherently bound together in a powerful way because if the point is to get to x and you say no the point is to get to y and it’s often the case well I’ve got to shut you up so that we get to x and that’s and—and warfare narratives are exactly that kind of narrative that’s exactly the kind of narrative there are there are tediological narratives in which I try to crush one key loss so that my two loss is realized yeah so did I did did I respond in kind to you

Jonathan: no I think I think you’re right I think you’re right it’s also one of the reasons why I’m I’m trying to point out the idea of eschatological storytelling which is what which is what many religions have not just Christianity, Islam and Buddhism and Hinduism and Judaism all have eschatological storytelling which is that the resolution of their story happens in another age happens in in an age beyond ages or an age of ages where the final manifestation of the final Buddha will create will restore a new cycle it doesn’t there are different ways of putting it in terms of Christianity it’s the—the new Jerusalem the messianic age another age and so what because the storytelling is eschatological it pushes this the resolution of the story outside of the story or outside of the outside of the possibility of like a movie where the movie has a has an ending the story has an ending but that ending is not in the story

Paul: and I think in a lot of the work that I’ve done I think that is actually a a critical feature to actually having human communities have stable stories because there are elements of the story that if brought off into a new age afford afford the the pulling back of too many finite stories Miroslav Wolfe makes this point in the breakdown of Yugoslavia he noticed that it was the it was the the secular atheist descendants of communist who must settle scores in this age because there was not a new age in which another age in which the scores would finally be settled and so what Miroslav wolf noted is that there’s a and I think I think part of the scientific frame that pushes us towards this is that now there’s only this frame and when there’s only this frame all games must suddenly become finite and it actually intensifies the narrative conflicts between us which produces more bloodshed and so in this way there’s sort of an ironic relationship between this this dance of finite and infinite stories

John: I that’s a good point Paul and what you just said Jonathan it makes your I don’t know if you’ve read mick but her metaphorical theology and her speaking in parables but your sense of narrative is very much and again but it sounds more trans—narrative like it sounds like the point of the story is to throw you outside of the story like the parables and the point about the parabola well sorry I’m doing what I said you should one lesson I have learned from the peripheral of the prodigal son and carol shields does an excellent version of this in the story she wrote that’s an allegory of the prodigal son is that the attempt to find a resolution between justice and compassion isn’t something we should do right we shouldn’t do that we will lose our humanity and here’s where I’m influenced by Tillich like all—he talks about all these tone—offs the attempt to resolve the needs for individuation and par and participation we shouldn’t do that we shouldn’t try to resolve those tensions right we shouldn’t try to bring them to resolution so I guess the thing I’m trying to negotiate here with you and I feel like this is genuine sort of deal logos is right what does it mean then right there’s two things you’re saying right we want to there’s a sense in which the part of the infinite game is to keep the tensions alive if you’ll allow me that because that’s where we preserve our humanity and again this is a theological argument tilik makes it repeatedly it’s not I’m not something it’s not something I’m imposing on Christianity from without so and then and I’ll bring in Jordan Peterson you know after you play all the games you have to constantly remember that you’re playing the metagame and the metagame and the point is never to end the metagame never to never to get it and sometimes you win and sometimes you lose and if you try to always win you’ve actually lost the metagame right and these are the concerns I’m bringing in now if what you said is right Paul there’s a sense in which like is is the age beyond all ages which sounds like to me like the God beyond all gods but we’ll go back to that another time is the age beyond all ages is it a promised land or is it a horizon because if it’s it can do it can function the way you both said if it’s just a horizon of intelligibility not a promised land that we’ll get to where all these tensions will finally be resolved and everything will come to some kind of un un inhuman I want to say inhuman peace because I don’t want that a human in human peace and I don’t know why anybody should recommend it to me and so that’s kind of yeah I’m trying to play well I I try to play your ballpark

Jonathan: look at least in the at least in most Orthodox understanding there is that is that deification is a eternally dynamic process yeah the epic cases right and so if that and so there isn’t this idea of the coming age as we’re all gonna be sitting on clouds with harps—that kind of cliche and this and just bored—whatever and that there really is this idea that it’s a that it’s from glory to glory infinite infinite movement from glory to glory and that there is no there is no finish line

John: oh well as—and I mentioned it in my series I like the eastern orthodox idea of epictasis I think I I I sort of see that and I think that goes back to the vedanta it’s the right you’re not supposed to latch on to any one of the manifestations of Krishna it’s the art it’s the infinite trajectory it’s that it’s the way that trajectory points to beyond all the manifestation that gives you the sense of divinity but that sounds to me then that the answer to my question is that the the age beyond ages is a horizon not rather than a promised land

Jonathan: but I think the images I think they can be both I think it can be both at the same time and I think it’s how about this the promised land is a is a mountain an infinite mountain that has that it’s whose summit reaches into infinity

Paul: see I wouldn’t I wouldn’t phrase it now I’m going to put on theological what theologians do is quibble about words and distinctions I wouldn’t phrase it as age beyond ages because that that sort of that sort of just sort of punts it out into nothingness whereas I—one of my favorite articulations of this is CS Lewis’s children’s book the last battle where it’s further up and further in and where—right now we right now we get this Neil deGrasse Tyson at this very interesting conversation where he said— that we have this funny dynamic that the more we know the more we realize we don’t know because with each increase with each increasing vista we see more vistas and well that’s a curious aspect about reality we would have thought we’d have got to the bottom of it and and we—for all of we haven’t been doing it that long but we don’t seem to really be getting to the bottom of it and and so CS Lewis in the last battle and he’s it’s very interesting at Lewis’s point in his life he starts writing children’s book this man who seemed to know no children nor have reason to know children starts writing these children’s books and then I is the last battle is my favorite of those books because you have this sense of —suddenly the children discover true Narnia well then —of course this gets deeply into philosophy because it’s Lewis but and then their their quest is to go further up and further in and you have the same sense in in the great divorce his book about in some ways the age to come and Christianity has always recognized that the images we have of the next age at least because let’s not pal let’s not try to posit every age but let’s just be content with at least the next one they’re all of our all of our images are evocative they’re all limited but I think in many ways they do function as necessary elements for us to manage the age we have and to not concern ourselves too much about the age to come and again this is sort of where my Calvinism kicks in because finally all of those questions get punted to well if there is in fact such a God then and if this God is in fact good and right then he will finally do what’s do what’s right with it so and that’s obviously very pastoral move but

Jonathan: I love the I love the CS Lewis image I think it’s a beautiful image and it’s a very powerful image and it also helps to understand that at least at least my understanding when I read the father’s and I read the mystics is that the age to come is also now it’s also now it’s not just the age to come it’s that even in the now which is beyond what is immediately accessible to us in terms of seeing the glory of God you could see it that way or seeing the radiance of the glory of God in the world and so it’s not just a it’s not it it’s that it’s an age to come and when you talk about it in terms of let’s say the cosmic story but it’s accessible to the mystics now that aids to come like they’re already we already we see that in the text where they talk about —that there are some saints that are already in the resurrection that they they already participate in the resurrected in the resurrected body and so it’s not just a it doesn’t just have a narrative function it has an ontological reality which we can participate in

John: that’s how Interpreted the up and it always up and in it’s Neoplatonic which of course is why Jonathan likes it

Paul: and while Lewis probably picked it up from

John: well of course I mean what does he say in the magician’s nephew it’s all in Plato I don’t know what they’re teaching children these days so and so but that to me I yeah I mean but isn’t I mean NeoPlatonism is basically the vertical ontology rather than the narrative horizontal moving because right the horizontal moving towards the horizon that’s the narrative structure but and and but the what the plateness and the stoics say ultimately is no no and I go back to one of Jonathan’s point where you should ultimately set your identity isn’t this way this is practical I’ll use Buddhist terms this is the this is—this is relatively useful for getting around in your life but where you should ultimately set your identity is in right is on in that ontological relation

Jonathan: that’s why the narrative is actually not going towards the horizon it’s going up and down a mountain it’s they join together right the yours the story of your life becomes your struggle to go up and down the ontological mountain that and that’s what the story is again it’s it is the fall from it’s going down the the mountain falling tumbling falling into the water and then going back up somehow or joining the two extremes together

Paul: and to reframe it in a pastoral sense this also maps on to the command to love and I —I started a little clips channel and I John I used your clip at the end of I think it was of agape and just last night at a meet—up one of the people you watched my said I’ve never seen John Vervaeke talk about agape like that and I’ve seen so many Christians just light up when they heard that and so in a sense the so we’re talking all these symbolic ways but the very pastoral way to love your neighbour is in many ways many of these things just simply map onto that because loving your neighbor is like climbing a mountain and it’s often falling from the mountain and and because well and it’s and it’s loving a person and one of the things that you immediately you immediately get into when you start trying to love a person is all of the deconstructed grime of that person where they’ve they’ve taken on all these bad habits and I have all this crappy thinking and all of this self—deception and so even in that journey which Jesus basically boils down to okay well let’s —I gotta make it real simple and scalable for all of you I want to I want you to love your neighbor and that’s in a sense where your journey begins and I think even in the sense of beginning that journey anyone who loves their neighbor imaginatively engages a narrative that says I imagine for my neighbor a a blessedness that at this point they can neither comprehend nor attain and so my love in itself will it won’t guarantee but it will be an affordance and a a pathway up the mountain with them

John: – well that I mean I I’m in deep agreement with that I guess I my I think that the I don’t know if I’m making I’m not making an account argument I think I’m just putting on another dimension but maybe it’ll turn into a counter argument because I’m trained that way but because I’m doing a deep dive in this if you if you dive deeply into Platonic dialectic and you can but you can see it seated in Socrates those two dimensions and Jesus gives two commands love the love God with all your and then love your neighbor as yourself and I think of those the first command is the vertical and the second is the horizontal and like Jonathan said what dialogue what dialectic does and this is how I see it being trans narrative is that it says those two are always there I think of them almost like the x and y on a cartesian graph and right and then there’s the third dimension that emerges from them the third factor that’s neither the horizontal nor the vertical but—that which grounds the two of them together if you’ll if you’ll allow me and that I think this is something about what puts eminence emergence and emanation together but that’s getting very abstract let’s bring it down to it this is what I’m trying to what I’m trying to say that when I when loving you isn’t telling a story about you ultimately it’s about entering into dialogue that —that is constantly moving back in the tone—offs between your individuation and participation my individuation in part and that dialogue that logos that emerges between us that intimacy for me right that also that pre—figures I’ll use a Christian word it prefigures the intimacy I can have with the vertical logos and makes the two resonate together and so for me that’s what that’s what I’m trying to propose when I’m trying to propose dialogue but maybe the difference between these two is now disappearing I’m proposing that as maybe oh wow this is going to be pretentious the gods are going to strike me down for hubris maybe that is a better metaphor for the coming age an enacted symbol of the logos than story because we need something that will allow all of these emerging communities to dialogue with each other I think dialogue is really really important right now and that sounds like such a—united nations platitude and that’s not what I’m trying to get at I’m trying to get at a form of human discourse that is doing what we’re doing now and so I don’t think it should allow me I I don’t think that any one of our stories is I’ll try and use cap is the appropriate symbol for the sacred I think the ongoing dialogue between us is the best symbol for the sacred and it’s one we can enact in love horizontal and vertical love right now yeah but I also I don’t think how can I say this

Jonathan: I don’t think that that those two are exclusionary of each other like I I don’t think that

John: maybe they’re not I’m willing to see that I’m willing to concede that

Jonathan: and so so I think that so imagine it like like a a good way to maybe to imagine it’s imagining like a dance right and so we’re dancing and that dance has a has a pattern and that pattern will express itself in terms of communion in a immediate sense right in in the sense that you talk about in the sense of this exchange and this finding of places where we connect and then also this kind of accepting and relinquishing the places where we aren’t connected and so there’s this breathing in and breathing out in the discussion where we connect and disconnect and but we still continue to dance right in this discussion and so I think that’s definitely that’s definitely a a powerful and like you said a good image of the sacred and I think it’s great I think it’s wonderful but like I said because I think that I think that if we can’t avoid being in a story which scales at all these different levels that I talk about I feel like if we ignore it or if we try to cast it aside just like any pattern if you try to set it aside it’s going to it’s going to take its revenge on you it’s going to it’s going to come back right just like not sleeping like I talk about you don’t sleep and you think that sleeping sleeping is not useful then it’s gonna come back and I think that because we’re seeing this narrative burning right now all around especially in the west we also have to be able to find ways to reconcile ourselves within these stories and to find our place let’s say to find the way in which we fit into these stories as well and so I think that that’s why I think that I I totally agree with what you said but I also think that we have to we have to be in a in a story and if we don’t it’s going to happen to us

Paul: when we began I really liked how both of you so we’ve got the we’ve got the emergence from below and in a sense we’re all living in that emergence and we’re—our relevance realization is all the time because we understand the terror of falling back down the mountain and we understand so we’re all in the emergence but the emanation I think with a vision of the emanation one can have hope in in the emergent process that the emergence will not be futile now now it’s a weird thing because on one hand if you if you emphasize the emanation too strongly I think as you said Jonathan you get this tyrannical and you also squelch that I love how John I’d never put that together where your relevance realization is sort of right at the border between those two things yeah yeah yeah and that both drives us into the narrative it drives us into the future and this is one thing that— I I have when I think about the age to come my anxiety about the age to come is well what do you mean there’s no more c in the book of revelation because that’s symbolic of —of sort of chaos being put to rest and we’ll ripe every tier and all of that but but so right now you both need the anxiety and the narrat the meaning because again meaning is right in there too the meaning of the of the quest in the at the emergent level where we’re struggling up but yet also the confidence of the of the emanation that this this is —finally this is not purposeless finally this seeks towards a telos even though we understand that you do have finite and infinite games and so I —again just listening to both of you and taking from both of you I really find a lot of useful things to help me as the protestant here kind of in between the two of you

Jonathan: but in terms of meaning it’s really the idea of the escotala the eschatology is also important in terms of understanding this problem of meaning which is that meeting is post hoc quite often and it’s also fine that it’s post hoc we don’t have to see that as negative we don’t have to see it as negative that meaning is revealed after the fact and that meaning comes together after we’ve—like that person who gets hit by a bus and it’s all meaningless and they’re in the hospital and everything and then they can’t do the job that they were going to do and so finally they have to go to school and study something else and then they end up doing some other job and then they say oh that’s why I got hit by a bus and then you look at them and you think are you silly person you’re just you’re just putting the pattern back on to what happened but no no no that’s exactly how things work and it’s fine that they work that way and the vision of of the of eschatology has to do with a universal version of that which is that the logos judges at the end meaning the final meaning will be will be given at the end right just like a movie with a with a fishtail ending like that it’s only at the end that you see the full meaning and that’s not a negative thing it’s just it’s actually part of the the pattern as well that the final meaning is pushed into the future and it’s weird because people it’s like postmoderns have used that to to basically destroy— they’ve used that pattern to notice how meaning comes after to basically destroy all kind of essentialism but I’m like no I don’t think that destroys it I think that’s actually how it also works because you have darkness comes before the light even in the gen in the Genesis creation story the chaos is there before light and that’s just how it works

John: oh sorry Jonathan no no no well I’m going to play I’m going to I’m going to play with this a little bit scientists because the phenomena that you talked about I mean that’s very much the phenomena of reconstructive memory right that so a good metaphor this is our meta our memories are not like computer files our memory are is like a compost whatever is most recent is fairly accurate but as you go backwards in time things get meshed and confused together and that’s what you all the memory research since about elizabeth loftus on and that’s why people can you can it’s easy to implant false memories in people I think—I think you get get people right now get them in a room and get them to imagine doing something come back to them six months and ask them if they did it or not and they’re likely to say that they did it even though they imagined doing it and and they the examples of these are are replete this is one of the problems with sort of the idea that our self is a stable entity because that story is rewriting itself but part of that rewriting is undermining and so we do this all the time and one of the concerns of the post—modernists you guys are putting me in the weird position of defending

Paul: I think there’s value in post—modernism I think

Jonathan: I think there’s value

John: – – good – great because that’s where that’s one of the places where Jordan Jordan Peterson and I bought heads I think I’m in an innovation yeah

Jonathan: I told you I tell Jordan in the comments conversation with him that I think he doesn’t understand jacques—

John: and there’s deep connections between Derrida and negative theology there’s a— wonderful work on that the influence of Derrida on Caputo and mark Taylor who are amazing theologians I mean that’s just that’s just there or Foucault’s deep reflections on Stoicism and the technologies of the self and the work of Pierre head oh that’s all there too right there but the concern is the what the postmodernists and that’s what I’m trying to do with the example is they’re trying to say but we have a pretence of the stability of the narrative that is not true that that event you got where the guy goes back he said well that’s great but—that’s reconstructive memory and that’s exactly what makes the idea that there’s a narrow that’s what d stick postmod if post—modernism is anything it’s an attempt to destabilize our culture of cognitive grammar and show that it’s much less stable than we pretend it is and just we pretend that we have a stable self right and that our memories are accurate what we realize is actually our self isn’t so stable and our memories are mostly false and so

Jonathan: but what if that pattern, the manner in which older events mesh into themselves, what if that is actually a very useful way to see patterns because…

John: It is , it is.

Jonathan: I love the legends of Alexander the Great because there are some of the most mythical mystically powerful stories that that you can find because they seem to have been through that grinder that you talk about and I think that I could I would even dare say go as far as to saying that I think that the story in Genesis that’s what happened it’s just it’s at a cosmic scale and so what’s left in the story of Genesis it is a telling of something that happened but has been brought into such patterning that it has it’s represented only in universal categories

John: that’s cool Jonathan that’s very cool because when I teach my students about this I say the point of memory is not an accurate reporter of the past but an intelligent anticipator of the future and so is that basically what you’re saying is is that how I should understand it

Jonathan: well I think it’s mostly that I think that memory is there to let’s say especially ancient memory is the is a patterning mechanism it’s not to remember accurately things in the past it’s there to recognize the pattern of being so that well maybe you could see it the way you said so that you can encounter that pattern as it as it manifests itself to you in in the world right now

John: it’s the importing of good learning basically with what we’re talking about because that’s what you mean by pattern detection ultimately right

Jonathan: I mean yeah that could be it I’m not sure about the term you use I never heard it but I

Paul: and I think—we’re bumping into modernity again here and we have to give modernity it’s due because when you say the pretense of the stability of the narrative that is not true and what we’re saying is that —Sally really didn’t go to the park on November 31. —and there’s an interesting discussion in the CS Lewis community about the date I mean CS Lewis was horrible with dates and he seemed to completely get wrong his conversion story which is a seminal moment and it’s like how could you get that how could you get the timing of this wrong alistair mcgrath has a whole biography nearly half devoted to this issue —part of part of part of the reason modernity arrived and was so potent and was so—was so productive for us was it demanded the correlation to a certain to it to a certain layer of our reality but those correlations I mean what Jonathan and I continually deal with with our audiences given all the deep impact of modernity on the reading of the biblical text which is a pre—modern text obviously is well how how are we in fact to to put all these layers together and and that also maps onto our questions of let’s say the next age because do I participate in this well what am I and what on earth does resurrection mean and this resurrection of Jesus Christ and I mean so—we have to on one hand give modernity it’s due in that Sally did not go to the park this day and that is a that is a memory she has and—even if so I’ve been married longer—I’ve been married for years and it’s amazing the the kinds of conversations you’ll have with a spouse in terms of what she remembers on what I remember and —

John: I used to do those fights whenever it comes down to the confidence in the accuracy of memory I just say no we both have to admit that we’re both wrong and let’s let’s try and work out about this let’s turn the fight to where to something current because that’s a that’s an irresolvable issue

Paul: but we have to— so even and even in that quote the pretense of the stability of narrative is that it’s not true the postmoderns they can’t live without the moderns I mean it’s simply the way that the pattern lays out as Jonathan would say and I’m not pushing against it I think it’s right and I think the quest now as we’re getting as modernity is receding is to not lose do not lose the benefits of what we earned in modernity in the phase that comes next in our instantiation of those phases because that’s I think what happened in the movement from from Christendom into modernity and even and—even in the movement from the pagan into the Christian era and so as we travel we try to say okay we’ll concede that we got a discrepancy on the date here but let’s also understand the value of what is clearly valuable to us now and these things are hard to all and I think the culmination of the eminent the emergent and the eminent coming together is in fact the fruition of all things that’s what we’re looking for even in our project

John: I agree I think that’s good so there’s something that’s occurring to me that so it sounded to me because what you said about trying to keep the two and it sounded to me what Jonathan was saying is like that’s why I use the word anticipation because it’s not quite the same thing as prediction. prediction is third person anticipation is transjective it integrates the third person and the first person together right I can predict the end of the universe but saying that I anticipate it makes no sense right but I anticipate— going to work later in the day or something like that so because it’s what I’m saying is it it’s not just propositional it’s procedural it’s perspectival and participatory and then what I heard Jonathan saying is —that there are and I agree with this there are kinds of predictions and they’re also postdictions right because you’re also not you’re not just you’re not just anticipating future patterns and pretend right you’re also picking up on perennial patterns is that fair and that’s what I mean by post—diction or maybe always diction rather than prediction and post—diction maybe that will coin a new phrase always diction but

Paul: that’s a good word for all of Jonathan’s work

John: so what I heard Jonathan saying is that —if you’ll allow me and— you both know that I use this word in a non—pejorative fashion that there’s something like mythic anticipation or mythic always diction that’s important and valuable and then what I’m trying to get out with what you just said Paul is yeah but—what’s also really good at we’re really really good at prediction is it is the scientific world view it’s really good at detecting patterns and remember science isn’t what it state what the content of science is constantly changing. I think this is the fundamental mistake of scientism. scientism is to equate science with its current products science is a process of overcoming self—deception in in the ways we try and detect patterns and—it’s really powerful for distinguishing causal and correlational patterns constitutive patterns from causal patterns etc that’s very very powerful and so I’m looking for a way of trying to get these two to talk together because if what we’re at ultimately about is pattern detection then the I’ll use your term now the narrative we need is the one that has to encompass this tremendous process again do not equate science with its current claims that’s a ridiculous thing to do that’s like equating you with what you say right now in this moment that’s a mistake that’s the mistake of scientism I acknowledge it I reject that mistake science is a family of processes for overcoming self—deception in order to enhance pattern detection and if that’s what we’re talking about here science has to be included and it can’t be included as the somewhat daft second cousin, it has to have an important seat at the table that’s what I’m arguing for here

Jonathan: no I think you really pushed you pushed a button in my own little polemic attitude which is that because science has been treating me like the daft cousin for a few centuries I want to turn around and slap it around a little bit —so that it stops being so arrogant but I agree that ultimately you’re right and I think that and I think that that’s why I’m excited about this this these new horizons coming out of cognitive science because I feel like the the return to consciousness or the understanding of the effect of consciousness and the relationship between unconsciousness and meaning making and how that in a way fills up kind of fills up the horizon of our understanding where we realize the inevitability of understanding consciousness if we want to go further in understanding the way the world lays itself out then I think that it’s there that we’re going to see the biggest connections between the two sides or the mythic side and the more technical side you know because you’re right in terms of mythical when you talk about mythical prediction that’s what revelation is revelation is is mythical prediction it uses all the patterns of the old testament it’s there’s nothing in revelations almost nothing in revelation which is not in like in the book of revelation ezekiel or yeah in the book of revelation there’s nothing that’s not there in all the other books in scripture it’s it’s actually it’s taking these these prophetic patterns of seeing the rel the pattern of reality using imagistic language and is now telling you putting it into a predictive mode where it’s saying this is what you have to expect in terms of patterns as the world kind of as the story plays itself out and so because a lot of people don’t see it that way it’s one of the reasons why they don’t understand it because they’re always wanting to just identify who’s that figure, what historical figure corresponds to that figure in revelation… I think that’s missing the point in terms of pattern making.. I’m kind of off the track here but I totally think that you’re right and the image of the…and I’m gonna put my last little the image of the last age in in scripture the final image is the is the city it’s not I always tell you I always remind people it’s not the garden anymore or the garden is surrounded by the city and the city is exactly that image of a technical understanding or technical realization and so it has to it becomes a form of glory in the end although it was in the narrative of scripture a result of the fall and they kind of it kind of imagined like a desire

Paul: …to show you’re Cain, right?

Jonathan: Yeah exactly, to protect yourself, to cover yourself, to create these buffers so that you’re protected from the outside world. It ultimately ends up being a kind of glory in the last moment, you could say.

John: Jonathan you really do have a genius for symbolic thought you draw things out that I’ve never seen before I just want to compliment you on that it’s a sincere compliment it’s it’s impressive there’s an artistry to it that I just I respect I think it’s really powerful

Paul: and I would I would just tweak the book of revelation a bit because I think the book of revelation is is old testament prophecy plus the revelation of Jesus Christ because that’s actually the new element between Ezekiel Daniel and the children of Cain as it as it as it arrives there in the new Jerusalem but—I no I think that’s no this was this is this has been excellent and maybe we should maybe we should land

Jonathan: we probably should be going for two hours I rarely able to go for two hours

John: I think we should maybe close it off here I feel one of my one of my criteria one of the one my mark of the logos is with the where their participants get to a place that they couldn’t get to on their own but they everybody feels that they got to a place collectively that they couldn’t get to on their own and that’s —and I don’t mean this sacrilegiously—Jesus where two or three are gathered in my name and there I am also the—that that something more than just the three of us something emerged but the emergence also disclosed the overarching sacred canopy of emanation for me at least in this and so I wanted to thank you both for this I thought it was great

Jonathan: yeah thank you I really really appreciate it too I think you I think one of the things that I noticed is that every time I talk to both of you I end up on paths that I’ve never been and and I say things that I’ve never said and I realized and I wonder why do I have never said that before as I’m saying and so it’s actually for me it’s like a wonderful trip to be oh yeah this is pulling things out of my mind that I that I that I had never said and so it’s always a good it’s always a wonderful trip to be one with you guys so I appreciate it

Paul: I agree with everything that’s been said so thank you both and I will I will send this I will once this is rendered I will send it to both of you

Jonathan: yeah we could we could just all post it on our channel that I think that would be fun oh yeah we’ll post it all

John: I’ll post it on my channel today and Jonathan you can do whatever you watch and I would I’ll I’m not to obligate anybody but I think this was valuable and I would like to do it again at some point

Jonathan: yeah definitely

Paul: All right, take care gentlemen! Bye everybody.